research specifically related to forests. Total forest research expenditures in the United States were about $530 million in 1998.
Trends in university and nonfederal forestry research are difficult to assess. Non-Forest Service federal, state, and nongovernmental organization forestry research has increased in recent years despite fairly static funding in Forest Service research funds. Forest industry research also appears to have increased in the last 5 years, although it is concentrated in a few firms.
The overview presented here suggests that financial and human investments in forestry research, construed narrowly, are substantial and that return on investment is high. Forestry research may be defined more broadly to include much of natural resources research. In either case, the nation has moderate capacity to discover new knowledge about forest resources. However, the nation's forestry-research capacity and investment in research, particularly in Forest Service research, have declined sharply in the last decade. Many scientific disciplines appear to have dwindling numbers of research scientists and dwindling expertise despite rapid increases in pressing problems regarding the productivity, health, management, and protection of our nation's forests. Those trends are important and must be addressed without delay, given the rapidly increasing number of challenges and issues facing forests and forestry research.